Breast Cancer Epidemic Looms in China

The Physicians Committee

Breast Cancer Epidemic Looms in China

October 17, 2008

China is on the cusp of a breast cancer epidemic, according to the current issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Using data from the Chinese National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Survey, researchers estimated that the current breast cancer incidence—10 to 60 cases per 100,000 women—will increase to more than 100 cases per 100,000 by the year 2021.

Meanwhile, a Japanese study in the International Journal of Cancer adds more evidence that traditional soy products help prevent breast cancer. Using a case-control design, researchers found that women who consumed the most soy products had roughly a 25 percent reduction in breast cancer risk. The protective effect was limited to ER+, PR+, and HER2- tumors.  

Meat intake has risen dramatically in Asia in recent years, and dairy products are now heavily promoted. Traditional rice, soy, and other products have become less fashionable. At the same time, many women are delaying childbirth. These factors appear to contribute to the increasing cancer risk in Asia.

Linos E, Spanos D, Rosner BA, et al. Effect of reproductive and demographic changes on breast cancer incidence in China: a modeling analysis. J Natl Cancer Inst 2008;100:1352-1360. 

Suzuki T, Matsuo K, Tsunoda N, et al. Effect of soybean on breast cancer according to receptor status: a case-control study in Japan. Int J Cancer 2008;123:1674-1680.

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